Chapter 3 Summary

Mitch Albom explains in “The Student” what happened to the promise that he made to Morrie to keep in touch. Rather than keep in touch, Albom went on to participate in a daily and nightly grind following his dream of becoming a professional pianist. Unfortunately, Albom explains, he did not become a professional pianist. For all his nights in dank nightclubs and for all his time writing songs, he found himself failing for the first time. He did not enjoy the experience.

However, this came to an end when Albom’s favorite uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Albom explains that this had been the uncle who taught him about music, driving, girls, and football, and even as a child Albom identified this uncle as one of his first role models. When his uncle died, Albom’s life changed. No longer would he waste time writing songs at night that no one would listen to.

Instead, he returned to university and obtained a master’s degree in journalism. Rather than following his own dreams, he would write about athletes following their dreams. Albom explains the breakneck pace and relentless drive that led him to success. He wrote all night and all day; he took jobs in Florida and New York. However, his great success as a sports journalist came when he wound up in Detroit, a city so enthusiastic for sports that it has professional teams in every popular American sport. Albom explains how he moved from writing articles to columns to books to appearing on the radio and television. Although he married a woman named Janine and bought a house on a hill, he found that he did not have time to start a family.

Although it may sound like working for the Detroit Free Press was a waste of time, Albom did not think it was. He felt he had gained a sense of control over his life. The rapid pace with which he worked would bring him happiness. Albom recalls thinking that his uncle died young, in his forties; therefore, he should squeeze every ounce of happiness out of life that he could. Consequently, Albom did not have time to keep up with the affairs of Brandeis University. He was busy working, buying cars, and building a stock portfolio; he ended up throwing away his alumni letters. Ultimately, Albom was unaware that his favorite professor was sick.